Archive for May, 2019

A Cold Bank Holiday

Saturday, May 11th, 2019
On Beinn a' Chaisteil, with Beinn Dorain behind

We were supposed to be spending the early May Bank Holiday weekend in the Arrochar Alps, climbing on the Cobbler, but the weather had other ideas.

Forecast temperatures on the crag were due to be a few degrees below zero, so a new plan was needed! For most, that plan involved staying at home. Rob and Mike climbed on Llanberis slate, but Carmen and I stuck with the original destination, and spent a few chilly days in the southern Highlands.

Beinn nam Fuaran

Saturday was cold but sunny, perfect walking weather, so we decided on the group of 5 Corbetts south east of the Bridge of Orchy. Not a hugely long day (around 15 miles), but being Corbetts there's a lot of ascent between each, the total for the day being over 2000m.

Eagle

The walk was excellent with some superb views, but the highlight of the day was a chance encounter with a golden eagle, feeding on a sheep carcass only 10m or so below us. It soon caught sight of us of course, and was off, but I've never been this close to a wild eagle before, and am never likely to be again.

Mill Bay

Sunday's forecast was for the best weather was near the coast. So we drove for 2 hours towards Knapdale on the northern end of the Mull of Kintyre, for some esoteric cragging at Mill Bay. Good rather than great climbing, and freezing cold despite being only 10m above sea level, but in a superb setting. Well worth a visit if in the area.

Snowtastic

The next day the plan was to climb Meall an Fhudair, another Corbett across the valley. The summit area is a complex mix of knolls and lochans, so we wanted a clear day for it. As we sat in the car at the campsite, the rain was coming down steadily and the cloud lowering so we almost bailed, but luckily it had stopped by the time we parked the car.


Meall an Fhudair from
Beinn Damhain

We almost turned back on the initial ascent, as the cloud came down again and it start to rain, soon turning to snow. But again, before the decision point had been reached it cleared, and the rest of the day stayed dry and sunny. So much so that we added on an extra summit at the end, the rocky Graham of Beinn Damhain. Another good day, and a fine little hill for practising navigation, with great views over the Arrochar Alps, Loch Fyne, and the Ben Lui range.

All in all, a great weekend, and despite the bank holiday crowds on the West Highland Way and no doubt the nearby Munros, we only met 3 other pairs on the hills all weekend.

Bank Holiday Snowdonia Tick Frenzy

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019
looning about

Not the nasty little buggers wot bite ya legs (which are out in force) but those climbs that have been on your list for a while… in my case nearly 30 years !

 

When the club has been in Scotland for the last 2 BH weekends I've been at Helyg the historic Climber Club hut in Ogwen valley, first with Pete B and latterly with Mike Shaw. The hut was hosting only a couple of other people both times (in fact the same couple!) which was great.


Pete and I enjoyed four days of wall to wall sunshine and we made the most of it, avoiding the crowds as much as we could and ticking stuff on my list (oml ). Friday was Tryfan – Munich Climb (HVS 5a** oml ) via Gashed Crag (VD***) and a some random lovely bubbly pitch to finish. Enroute to the car we bagged a S 4a route on Tryfan Bach in the evening sun. On Saturday we headed to Craig Lloer on the opposite side of the valley and a pleasant, if busy, hours walk-in brought us solitude (for a while). Catching the sun this south facing crag has only a few worthwhile routes, and a few more dirty ones. Our target was Kirkus Route (VS 5a ***oml ) The interest in this route comes on the second pitch, a 8m off-width crack soloed by Kirkus (nutter). Graded 5a it's not that hard (nowhere near Brimham standards) not really off-width and protectable with a large (Friend 4/5) cams. It is however really intimidating and excellent climbing. We did a pair of routes on the crag, Central Ridge (VS 4b) closer to 5b and The Rib (S 4a), a really lovely route with exposed, steady climbing up a clean rib/nose. Highly recommended, take lots of slings (but don't fall off ).

Pete on P3 Kirkus route Cwm Silyn

Kirkus's Route P3 Cwm Silyn

Monday we eventually arrived at Cwm Silyn (sat-nag … hmmm) the scene of an inglorious retreat in the pissing rain a few years back. Our target was another Kirkus's Route (VS 5a oml) as it was for the other teams there, so we scampered up ordinary route (D**) instead of waiting in the fall line. It was a good move as the sun was fully on this excellent route that tackles the centre of the Great Slab. After P1 + P2 (Rockfax update has a good topo) the route heads up blank looking slabs in a joyous sequence of hidden incut pockets. Really good and not hard, if you can do P1 you will cruise the rest with a smile on your face.


Bochlwyd Buttress

BH Monday we again avoided the crowds and headed down to Clogwyn y Bustach, home of Lockwood's Chimney a traditional route, (the tradition being get 11 other people, wait for it to rain, all get drunk and leave it till dark to set off). But we had designs on Gallop Step (HVS 5a ** oml) mainly because it starts on the ground (best place) climbs up for a pitch then down for a pitch to finish 70m away on the ground again! You start from a platform (and pete throws your shoes roughly in the direction of the bags and nettles) and traverse under a roof on jugs and copious wire placements cleaning out the grass, dandelions and prickles as you go. P2 carries on and then heads down, making seconding a tad exciting. I thought both pitches worthy of 4c but P1 is a *** experience. Not quite satisfied we had a a spot of lunch in Helyg we ran up a couple of quality Severes at Bochlywd Butress which catches the evening sun. Lovely climbing and only one other team there. That was our lot, more tea at Helyg and we were on our way home.

This May BH we bailed on the camping in Arrochar option (due to snow!) and Mike and I went to play on the Llanberis slate. We figured we could keep out of the cold wind and catch whatever sunshine was available, and so we did. Mike has never climbed on slate before, but it suits his style dynamic moves off tiny but positive holds – mostly.

Starting at Bus Stop we did Solstice (HVS 5a**) and Fools Gold (E1 5c ** oml) (both led and never 5c) and then headed to Australia, a huge quarry with many levels. We wandered to Looning the Tube (E1 5a *** oml) and there was a team just finishing, fun climbing with minimal kit needed and not very hard. Mike took a fancy to the route next door, one of Andy Swann's, Goose Creature E3 6a. The E3 bits is odd, it has 2 bolts but the first is high. The 6a (UK not Fr) is cos it's fecking hard. Mike on-sighted it on lead, I took a few goes at the crux on 2nd. Mikes 4th route on slate and his hardest ever lead! We wandered up past the crowds at the siding to Zippy level, where I led a reasonable HVS 5a that brought us to the Skyline buttress, a new one for me. Its huge and great and I am definitely going back. Mike led the VS 4b, which he didn't rate, i thought it was quite good. Back at the car we nipped ino Bus Stop again this time to catch the evening sun and did Gnat Attack (E1 5c ** oml). More than a tad run out but the hard moves are safe, we both led it in wonderful weather.

Sunday was colder an we headed down into the quarries above the power station to the Rainbow Slab area – somewhere I'd never been- WOW. My target was Bela Lugosi is Dead E1 5b ** oml, a long crack line with lots of gear (mostly). After both leading that we did the excellent sport route next to it Horse Latitudes 6a+ oml, which is quite sustained but never desperate. Mike now fancied a look at Pull My Daisy E2 5c ***, a wonderful route to second. Technically hard climbing (good gear plus a skyhook!) up a crack leads to a pipe sticking out the wall. Place all your gear and now quest off for the top the crag (20m away) without worrying about runners. Luckily the climbing is much easier but not trivial. Great lead by Mike, quite a good intro to slate!

So that was the end for us, forecast was poor for BH Monday so we came back to York and went to work and ticked off all those routes on UKC. Of course Snowdonia is so well endowed with high quality routes that I've filled up my Wishlist again – roll on some more good weather.

North Wales Nav weekend

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019

On the weekend of the 6th of April six YAC members headed to North Wales to attend a Navigation course at Plas y Brenin. We based ourselves at the Dolgam campsite near Capel which I would highly recommend, really nice clean site with great facilities.

Saturday dawned and for a change we were hoping for low cloud and poor visibility to make the most of the Nav course, the sky couldn't have been clearer. The sun was out and the temperature high, think we all regret the winter trousers and warm base layers, so much for the poor weather nav.
After Jane had put her Shepherd's skills to test rounding up an escaped lamb at the campsite we headed to the centre for the course.

Despite the clear conditions the course went well and I think we all got something from it and at least the nice weather made for a more pleasant relaxed day. It was the first time for most of us in the Plas y Brenin centre and we were all impressed, so much so we headed back there for an evening talk involving polar bears and canoes rounded off by dinner (that's two mains and two puds for Karl) and a few drinks in the bar.

Sunday morning was cloudy and cool so plans to climb were put on the back burner and we headed for a group ascent of Tryfan. After a minor incident where Karl narrowly escaped serious injury or death (Simon to the rescue) we arrived at the summit and the crowds.


The skies had cleared, the sun was up and it seemed even warmer than the Saturday.

From the summit we continued up Bristly ridge, the group showed great support and Jane was especially pleased to complete this classic scramble. We returned to the cars via the Y Gribin ridge with perfect clear conditions and some great views.

Great  weekend with crazy weather for that time of year.